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The Universal Commons Measurement Challenge

A new global framework for measuring Social and Natural Capital




One of the barriers to bringing Social and Natural Capital - things like health, literacy, trust, clean water and biodiversity - into everyday commercial decision making is a lack of high quality measurement. If we cannot track the condition of air quality or the literacy within a community with precision, then it’s very difficult to know how our activities are affecting them. 

This is why our first goal is to create a new framework for measuring Social & Natural Capital. 

Our current economic system relies on accurate metrics that have been developed over the past few centuries. We have the metre for length, the kilogram for mass, the minute for time, the amp for electrical current, and Celsius for temperature. But we lack metrics for Social & Natural Capital that are as accurate, relatable and can achieve broad agreement.

We believe it is possible to measure changes in Social and Natural Capital. In fact, we believe it is already being done, although there are many incompatible metrics of varying quality, and there is no consensus on which ones are best for each type of Capital. That’s why we have created the Universal Commons Measurement Challenge. We are working with the Challenge Prize Centre at Nesta, the innovation foundation, to develop a challenge that asks for a new measurement framework for Social & Natural Capital.

The Universal Commons Measurement Challenge will offer a substantial cash prize for the individual or team that can best deliver a new measurement framework for Social and Natural Capital. 

Whether you think you might have the answer, or if you’re an interested observer, we encourage your participation in this process. Join our mailing list: we will be announcing the challenge details in the coming months.

Please contact with your thoughts on how we can best help to bring measurement into the 21st Century.

Outcomes of the Challenge

Open Access to the Framework

Once the Universal Commons Measurement Challenge has been won, we will make the resulting Measurement Framework available to use by any business, government or organisation interested in measuring social and natural impact in a rigorous and reliable way.

Development of Asset Classes

We will also use the Measurement Framework to identify various aspects of S&N Capital, called Asset Classes, such as literacy, clean water or air pollution, and place them on the Universal Commons Exchange (UCX) for lease and trade.

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